The world’s largest-ever show garden is coming to The Game Fair this year

Students from Capel Manor College, overseen by RHS Gold Medallist Julie Dowbiggin, have just 90 days to finish The Game Fair Gardens, a mammoth task sure to produce spectacular results.

The Game Fair, the annual ‘festival of the Great British countryside’, will feature an ambitious new area for 2019. The event, which returns to Hatfield House in Hertfordshire this year, will be the site of the world’s largest ever show garden: The Game Fair Gardens, sponsored by Charles Stanley.

Work on the garden, which was designed by students from Capel Manor College under supervision from RHS Gold Medallist Julie Dowbiggin, began recently, with much of the work being carried out by students from the College’s horticulture courses.

With just 90 days from the start of work to the opening of the event, and with more than 5000 plants and trees, 400m2 of turf and 20m of dry stone wall to go in, they’ve a strict timeline to work to in order to be ready for the 26th July when the gates open to the 120,000 visitors expected over the weekend.

Game Fair Masterplan Flat layout FINAL_CS_positioning

Hatfield House, which hosts both The Game Fair and The Game Fair Gardens is owned by Lord and Lady Salisbury and is already home to impressive gardens. Lady Salisbury herself is a keen gardener, as well as being a patron of Capel Manor College, London’s leading education institution for land-based skills.

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She said: ‘It is wonderful that this year The Game Fair is encouraging our apprentices and students to use their skills and knowledge to create a spectacular garden at Hatfield.

‘As patron of the college, specialising in land-based subjects across London, I know this RHS award-winning team will provide inspiration to gardeners and will show with a good design, what can be grown. Seeing what people can do is always a pleasure as well as providing a vital contribution to our green open spaces.’

game fair garden

Credit: Clive Nichols.

The design incorporates several different areas, each by a different designer. These include the Potager Garden – an ornamental garden planted with herbs, vegetables and flowers – and a Floristry and Rose Border.

The Arboriculture, Agriculture and Environmental Conservation garden has been planted with several British native tree species, and has been inspired by the British countryside with planting that features a pond, game cover, maize and sunflowers. Other areas of the garden feature plants used in the leatherworking and saddlery industry, a vineyard, prairie and estate planting.

The Game Fair Garden also features the Gardens Theatre, which will be the venue for a series of talks and demonstrations. Topics range from practical floristry to beekeeping, by way of barbequing and sustainable garden design.

English vineyard

James Gower, Managing Director of The Game Fair, said: ‘We know that lots of the people who attend The Game Fair are keen gardeners, so a project such as this will be a huge draw for the 120,000 visitors coming to The Game Fair this year. A show garden on this scale has never been attempted before, but who better to pull it off than Capel Manor College, with their outstanding reputation for garden design.

Capel Manor College have diverted efforts from RHS shows to participate in this ambitious project. It is a one in a lifetime opportunity for the students. That we can help to encourage the next generation of garden designers and horticulturalists is a great bonus.’

Once The Game Fair is over, many of the plants and trees will be donated to local schools, charities and hospices to ensure that the project leaves a lasting legacy.

The Game Fair is at Hatfield House, Hertfordshire, from 26-28 July — for more details. Complimentary copies of Country Life will be given out form the Charles Stanley stand at The Game Fair Gardens